2013 In Print Fiction Writing Contest Winners!

Christine Swanberg
Christine Swanberg

In Print members got together Saturday afternoon to celebrate their successes in 2013 and to congratulate the winners of the In Print Fiction Writing Contest.  The judge – Christine Swanberg – said it was difficult to choose the winners from all the strong stories.  In fact, along with the three winners, she added two honorable mentions.

  • First Place – The Art of Breaking AwayChristine Rice
  • Second Place – GroundedKarna Tecla
  • Third Place – Jessie’s Jelly JointKristin Oakley
  • Honorable Mention – Broken PromiseDeborah Ann Lucas
  • Honorable Mention – The Learning PurseRay Paul

Congratulations to all the winners and all the writers who participated!

2013 In Print Fiction Writing Contest – October 31 Deadline

Winners Receive

  • $75.00 US for First Prize
  • $50.00 US for Second Prize
  • $25.00 US for Third Prize

Submissions accepted until midnight on October 31, 2013.

Winners will be announced at the In Print meeting on December 14, 2013.

Submission Guidelines

  • All submissions should be accompanied by the In Print Writing Contest Submission form.
  • All submissions should be accompanied by the $10 entry fee.
  • Limit one submission per author.
  • No identifying information – such as the author’s name – is permitted on the submission.
  • All submissions should be in Times New Roman font, 12 point, double-spaced.
  • Fiction has a maximum of 2,000 words.  Word count should be on the bottom left corner of the final page.  The title and page number should be in the upper right corner of each page.
  • In Print reserves the right to reject any submission that fails to follow the contest guidelines.
  • In the event of lack of entries, In Print reserves the right to cancel the contest.  In that event, entry fees will be returned.

Mail your submission to:

In Print 2013 Writing Contest
P.O. Box 2146
Loves Park, Illinois  61130

2012 Non-Fiction Winner! The Unexpected by Jim Applegate

Writing has its own mysteries. I often wonder what it is that makes me feel so good when I write. Maybe it was the girl in my high school English class who stopped me in the hall to say, “I liked your poem.” Maybe it was my junior English teacher who read my essay about A Tale of Two Cities aloud to the class. Or maybe it was the young lady whose heart I won with love letters. Writing is a joy to me, but the effect it has had on other people was unexpected.

Once retired, my wife and I began writing a fictional account of her courageous ancestor. An unexpected meeting with a newly published author in Michigan caused us to set that novel aside and begin another shorter one. In the fall before we published that novel, we made what had become an annual journey to St. Thomas, VI, expecting to have a relaxing vacation. At the time we never imagined what could happen. A visit to one of our favorite restaurants, the Bannana Tree Grill, was always a must, for there we had met and had become friends with Ed. Since we needed our picture on the back cover of our novel, in 2005 we asked our island friend to photograph us on the patio overlooking Charlotte AmalieHarbor. As we discussed the book’s content, Ed said, “You won’t believe this, but your book sounds like the story of my life. I want to buy a copy as soon as it’s published.” 

As a pilot Ed had been flying a young lady, Amoi, and an older woman from St. Thomas to the Dominican Republic to visit the young woman’s mother on a Caribe Indian reservation. After several trips, he grew fond of the young lady, and Amoi’s older companion encouraged them to talk and laugh as they shared experiences during the flights. Soon Ed discovered the older woman had adopted the infant, who had become this beautiful young lady. To ease Amoi’s mother’s suffering, the older woman had agreed to bring Amoi back for periodic visits. Amoi’s mother allowed the adoption because life on the reservation was deplorable. As a result of her mother’s sacrifice, Amoi went to school in St. Thomas and grew up enjoying the best of the island’s culture, including a fine education.

The relationship between the young couple grew until Ed asked Amoi out on a date. Then the adoptive mother locked the young woman in the house and refused to let her see Ed, who couldn’t figure out why he was so suddenly rejected. When Ed tried to call Amoi, her adoptive mother always answered the phone and refused to let them talk. He realized she was keeping Amoi as her personal servant.

Ed was not easily defeated. After reading our story of a Delaware Indian grandfather who rescued his daughter and granddaughter from slavery in the hands of Gamek, a cruel Susquahanna Indian, Ed decided to be as clever as the grandfather. To communicate with Amoi, Ed smuggled a cell phone to her. Then he sent her a copy of our book. Reading the novel gave her the courage to escape and run away with Ed. Soon they were married and began a life together in St.   Thomas.

After we published our second novel, we received our first email from Amoi. She was so excited because she had discovered our new book on Amazon.com. We enjoyed her enthusiasm and loved the affection she sent us with her email. She wrote to us about their first child, Quin, as if we were family members. A couple of years later she shared a new joy with us. She and Ed had adopted a little girl, Tia, from the same Caribe Indian reservation where she was born. I never believed our book could have made a couple so happy.

One summer my wife and I experienced another unexpected response to our writing. We had spent $30.00 and hours of preparation hoping to sell copies of our books at a local craft fair. During the day whenever I tried to sell our novels to those who passed our booth, they would reply, “Are you kidding? I don’t read books.” One lady, however, did stop, listened to my pitch, and bought our second novel. A year later we received an email from her thanking us. She confessed that she had made some poor choices in her life, causing her much pain. When she read the storm episode from our novel where three runaway slaves became terrified as they huddled below deck, she had a religious awakening. She quoted the words of Nana who reminded her sisters that they had faced the auction block and survived. “Now make God proud,” said Nana. “Show Him your courage.” Those words caused our reader to say, “I’m going to make God proud of me.” My eyes watered when I read her words.

Now I realize writing can change peoples’ lives in unexpected ways. When I began writing, I thought the most important aspect was telling the story. I had to develop characters. Blending action with setting was a must. I needed to show action not tell what happened. I was writing to please myself. That is what I thought was most important. I forgot the effect it had on other people. Realizing my stories touched the souls of others is an unexpected bonus.

2012 Poetry Winner! My Mother’s Dream by Catherine Conroy

You clutched your horse’s mane
Rode Illinois plains, pigtails sailing behind you

Bent over paper, a pencil in your hand
Determined to become a writer, undaunted by the Depression

Became the sought after woman on campus
One suitor claimed your attention and you danced

Replaced your words with his words
Typed his scientific terms, created his book

Pledged your troth, he promised happiness
Placed your hand in his, your time would come

Held your firstborn, a son, surrendered him to the priesthood
Keened the day he jumped to his death, your words torrents of anguish

Held your second child, his doctor said he wouldn’t live
Grieved nine months later, pneumonia took his life, your words captured loss

Held your twin sons, one survived
The other jumped off an overpass, you had no words

Held me, fashioned in your image, imprinted me with dreams
My trials took you further and further from your dream

Held your youngest son, whooping cough and pneumonia didn’t claim his life
He continued past your time, he didn’t drain you of your words

Resurrected your dream, had it destroyed by that overpass
Your suitor long gone, his sodden ways a trail of dashed hopes

Endured ninety years and in your final days
Bound in a morphine haze, extended a maiden’s hand to your suitor

Beatific face, glowing eyes, you said, “Yes, let’s dance”
And I took up your pencil

2012 Fiction Winner! Authenticity by Catherine Conroy

In Duncan’s latest novel, the Jenson’s, had five children, two teenage girls and three boys, one age ten, and twins age seven. Duncan grew up with three sisters. Girls created the trauma and drama. He had them nailed in his book. Boys were another matter. Without the experience of brothers or sons, in the interest of accuracy, he offered to have his three nephews stay with him for a week during their Spring Break. They were similar in age to the boys in his novel. He knew how it would go. Boys were boys¸ busy with sports and computer games. He couldn’t understand why his sister complained about being tired all the time.

He went to Target and filled his cart with puzzles, board games, building sets, soccer balls, basketballs, squirt guns, and cool clothes he knew his sister would never buy for her sons. They’d have lots of fun with Uncle Duncan, a time they’d never forget. He also bought a tent, bug spray, and insect repellant. He lived near a forest with trails and he intended to camp overnight and explore with the boys.

“I’ll pick up them up at school,” he said to his sister. “I don’t need a thing. I’ve got everything covered, including toothbrushes and toothpaste.”

He drove up to school, waited in the car line-up and handed over a permission slip confirming his sister’s arrangement for her sons to go with him.

“Uncle Duncan, Uncle Duncan.” The boys rushed toward his car. Before he could stop them they tossed their backpacks into his front seat where he’d placed bread, pastries, and eggs so they wouldn’t be crushed or broken.

Unable to change what had happened he grinned and said, “Buckle up.”

“That’s where I’m sitting.”

“No, that’s my seat.”

“No it’s not.”

He couldn’t sort out who said what, so he called out, “Hey, hey, boys, settle down. Let me help.” Duncan got out of his car. “Daniel you’re the oldest, you sit in the middle. Josh and John, you sit in the booster seats.”

“But I don’t wanna sit in a baby seat,” said John.

“Me neither,” said Josh.

“Boys, listen up. You’ve got to sit where I tell you. I’ll buckle you in and we’ll be on our way. Who wants a candy bar and a book to…”

“What kinda of candy bars? Josh said.

“Mom says candy makes me hyper,” John said.

“Don’t you know, we’re not supposed to eat candy before dinner,” Daniel said.

“Okay, okay, no candy. Here are the books.”

Daniel said, “I can’t read in the car. I get car sick.” He crossed his arms in front of him. “What can I do? Mom lets us watch a video while she drives.”

Duncan slowed his words. “As you can see, I don’t have a video player in this car. When I was your age, I played a game of seeing how many letters of the alphabet I could find while I rode in the car.”

“That’s a sissy game,” Daniel said.

“Sissy game, sissy game,” the twins said in unison.

“Look, cars are lined up behind us.” Duncan palmed a just-a-minute to other drivers and pointed to indicate he was getting into his car in response to two people honking their horns.

“But, but, what do I get to do? The twins get to read and I can’t read,” Daniel said.

“Sit still and relax. I’ll give you a surprise once I’m out of here.”

“Yay, I get a surprise.” Daniel said. “Something better than some old books.”

“I want a surprise,” Josh said.

“I want a surprise, too,” John said.

“You’ll all have surprises, just settle down and let me drive.” He shoved his hand through his hair and forced a smile.

“But, I gotta go pee,” Josh said.

“Yeah, me too,” John said.

“I’ll take ‘em,” Daniel said.

Before Duncan could stop them Josh opened the door and all three boys tumbled out of the car and raced back into school. Duncan motioned for cars to drive around him. He heard someone yell, “What’s your problem? Get your car out of the way.”

Duncan ignored the commotion and ran into the school to find the boys.

“Can I help you?” A gray haired woman approached him. “Who let you in here?”

“I’m trying to find the Courtney boys. I’m their uncle.”

“Oh, yes, their mother did call. I’m the principal. It’s clear you need some help.”

“The twins said they needed to go, umm, to the rest room.”

“This way.”

Duncan followed her and recalled a time when he’d had to go to the principal office for getting into a fight. He didn’t feel much different now than he did then.

“Uncle Duncan,” he heard Josh holler. “Over here. You gotta meet my teacher and see what I drew today. It’s pinned on the wall.”

“No, you gotta go to my room,” John wailed. “You gotta meet my teacher.”

“He’s not going to your rooms,” Daniel said. “He’d rather see my work, not baby work.”

“Boys, boys, settle down,” Duncan said. “I’ll meet your teachers and see your schoolwork another time. We’ve got to get going. I told you we’re going to have a great time. I thought we’d go camping, have a campfire, roast marshmallows and hot dogs, and hike in the woods.”

“We can’t go in the woods,” Daniel said. “I’m allergic and so are the twins.”

“Okay, okay, we won’t go into the woods. Now, can’t we please, just go to the car and I’ll come up with a new plan.”

At the end of the week, Duncan took his nephews back home. “Hey, Sis, we had a super time. Didn’t we boys? Boys? Boys?” They had disappeared. “Thanks Sis, I’ll never forget this week.”

Duncan returned home and sat before his computer. He wrote, “Matt and Daryl Jenson, along with their two daughters, moved into their new home. They were disappointed they never had any sons.”

First In Print Writing Contest

Ready…. set……submit!

Announcing the In Print 1st Annual Writing Contest! Submissions are being accepted now thru June 10, 2012. One $100 prize will be awarded for the winning piece in each category (fiction, nonfiction, and poetry). Entry fee is $10 per submittal ($15/nonmembers) with winners being announced at our August 11 meeting. Poet Christine Swanberg, Rockford College Creative Writing Professor Michael Perry, and Mike Doyle of the Rockford Register Star have agreed to judge the entries.

Contest details: The subject must be about writing, whether you choose to write about a specific writer, a group of writers or writing in general, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s about writing. Each submission of fiction or nonfiction must be no more than 1000 words. Each poetry submittal must be 30 lines or less. Each submission must include a title page with your name and contact information. Do not put your name on your actual submission. Feel free to submit more than one piece, but be sure to include the entry fee and a separate title page for each piece you submit. Send submissions, plus entry fee, to In Print, Writing Contest, P.O. Box 2146, Loves Park, IL, 61130.